Answering someone else's question, going on a tangent, and having that tangent be the OP's point: My body is ready.
I administrate a half dozen Linux machines, I am strictly small fry, but hoping to hear more from a new position where I'll touch about a hundred, but less often.
Tangent/original thread idea: I've been continually distro-dabbling since first post, and I have finally gotten an Arch derivative under my belt. My solid fallback is currently Linux Mint 17 (because Ubuntu LTS base is pretty solid), but I'm spending more and more time in Manjaro lately. I think the underlying truth everyone has been either trying to explain or trying to understand is that there are two parts to distro selection. The first part is what packages are available, how well they are tested, etc. This would determine between, say, something in the Debian stable/testing/unstable, the Ubuntu LTS or non-LTS, Arch, etc. This determines how long between upstream kicking out UberSoftPackage 1.2.0 and your distro having it available.
For example purpose, I like to stay very close to the edge, as close as I can get without having constant breakage. In my case, this means I'd run Debian unstable, or Ubuntu non-LTS, or Arch.
After you've determined the distro family you're drawing from, everything else is technically optional. You can take just about any distro and twist it around to the way you like things, adding and removing desktop environments, adding and removing packages, changing defaults, etc. On the other hand, the further you are from the defaults, the harder it is to maintain, since you're moving against the upstream defaults, it's more things you have to reset/reconfigure on a reinstall or new install. For that reason, you should generally find a variant or sub-distro that matches your chosen layout as best you can.
For example, I'm currently switching from Linux Mint to Manjaro as my base distro. Now I don't have to have as many overlays/PPAs/etc to get the packages I want. Manjaro tracks upstream Nvidia drivers more closely, which I like, since there's really not a lot of distro-level changes to the Nvidia binary-only drivers possible, and also Manjaro has optimus support baked in, which is one less thing for me to track/monitor/fix.
Razorback - Arch-6430U - i7-3687U - 16GB - Intel HD4000
Rocinante - Ubuntu-E5530 - i5-3230M - 16GB - Intel HD4000
Donnager - Arch-M4800 - i7-4800MQ - 32GB - Intel HD4600/Quadro K2100M
Vargr - Arch-Vargr - i7-4790K - 32GB - Intel HD4600/GeForce GTX 970